Merrie Joy Williams

Merrie Joy Williams is a poet, novelist, librettist, reviewer, editor, and educator, with an MA in Creative Writing. She is a 2018 London Writers Award winner for poetry, and a winner of The Rosamond Prize, in collaboration with the composer, Anna Appleby. Krystallnacht, a chamber opera, debuted in 2016, in the Out of the Shadows festival (Leeds).

Merrie’s work has featured or is forthcoming in various publications, including The Interpreter’s House, The Colour of Madness (Stirling), Writing in Education, The Good Journal, Indivisible (Crocus), and Manchester: A New Alphabet, where she worked with illustrators to eulogise the city of her birth. A former English teacher, most recently she has coached Creative Writing in schools, and led or been a member of various adult writers’ groups. In 2018, as lead-facilitator of WRITTEN, she co-organised the first national residential for debut BAME fiction writers with full draft works-in-progress. Merrie won an Arts Council England award for her debut novel, SO.

Merrie is a 2019 poet-in-residence for ‘Let the Artists In!’ at MMU’s Special Collections, where she explored the process of being short-term fostered as a baby; leading to a collection of poems, a commemorative art capsule, and a series of essays. She performed with The London Writers Awards Poets, as part of The London Literature Festival at South Bank, where she debuted her first collection, Open Windows to a sold-out audience.


After Seamus Heaney’s ‘Personal Helicon’

I remember shouting down a stairwell.
Wild and unhinged things would answer back.
Siblings crazed with the power of older children.
Ma’s pot lids cymbaling the pied kitchen walls,

half-green as closely-guarded envy,
half-pink as a girl half-caught in gender’s chains.
The possibility of falling warned me,
hold on to the upstairs rails.

I recall jumping, unafraid flailing,
my feet aloft in quickened air.
Down fifteen jagged, jutting stairs
it was a mighty arc – or none!

I’d land clean. On both feet.
No gymnast’s extra step off beam,
the first thing in my life done well,
I lived for jumping after that.

I recall jumping
but were the jumps imagined? real?
One thing which happened for certain, I feel,
Pa seemed far when needed close,

I did not see his bouts with ghosts, beyond
our door. The few that won were nothing to
the thousands more. And was his drink or
were my jumps the triggers of his violence?

And is it real or costume blood
deep in the downstairs carpet?
False memories, true memories,
both call from the bottom of stairwells.

The future, silent, behind them.

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